American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Raising the Flag

American Marines Raising American Flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima
Joe Rosenthal (b. 1911)
American Marines Raising American Flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima
Gelatin silver print, 1945
Wide World/Associated Press
Prints & Photographs Division
Gift of Joseph C. O'Mahoney, 1961 (5.11)

Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima is one of the best-known war images ever made. The Allies invaded the island, more than six hundred miles off the coast of Japan, on February 19, 1945, hoping to establish a staging area for bombers. Rosenthal, a photographer for the Associated Press, landed under gunfire three hours after the invasion began. The Marines fought their way to the top of Mount Suribachi on February 23 and raised a small flag. Later that same day, five Marines and a naval medicine corpsman raised this second, larger flag at the summit and were recorded by Rosenthal. Contrary to popular belief, the moment was not staged. In thirty-one days of brutal fighting, 6,821 Americans died, including three of the flag-raisers. Rosenthal inscribed this print to Wyoming Democratic Senator Joseph O'Mahoney.

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